8 April 2013

Nigeria: Amnesty Is Only Way Out of Boko Haram, Muric Says

Photo: Vanguard
Bombing continues as citizens advocate for talks with Boko Haram

The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, a religious non-governmental organisation, NGO, said amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect remains the only option available to the Federal Government to curb the insurgency in the North.

A statement from MURIC on Sunday signed by its Director, Is-haq Akintola, said it welcomes President Jonathan's decision to set up a committee to look into the possibility or otherwise of granting amnesty to members of the sect.

"We are of the opinion that this is a step in the right direction. We believe that the Nigerian president is now thinking like the president of the whole country. Only by granting amnesty to the Boko Haram group can the president reposition the country for peaceful coexistence," they said.

MURIC also said it supports amnesty because it stands for peace.

"Amnesty gives life, hope and recovery. On the contrary, continued hostility and pursuit of insurgents are characterized by death and general insecurity".

Speaking further, the organisation said, "Terrorists have one mindset, namely, to put asunder what government has put together, to destroy what government has built. Terrorists seek to cause as much havoc as possible in order to attract attention to their cause. President Jonathan needs all hands on deck to build a united Nigeria and a virile economy. Progress of any kind cannot be attained in a state of insecurity."

MURIC, however, urged the president to rely more on his civilian advisers than on the military.

"Just as lawyers will always encourage their clients to go to court instead of amicable settlement of disputes, soldiers, particularly top military officers who are not usually directly in the firing line, will always prefer prolonging armed struggle," they argued.

Don't trust the military

MURIC also accused the military of using the conflict to achieve personal gains, and accused them of hiding facts.

"Propelled by the desire to extend the fracas and for other obvious reasons, the military may not have been giving us correct figures of casualties from clashes between (them) and Boko Haram.

"We remind the Federal Government of the need to take a firm grip of the Boko Haram phenomenon and to make good use of the president's latest initiative before the military digs in deeper," they said.

MURIC expressed the view that Mr. Jonathan must strive to assert "the civilian character of his regime by rebuffing the overbearing influence of the military in the Boko Haram imbroglio."

Boko Haram not faceless

The group also debunked the thesis of a faceless Boko Haram, arguing that some of the sect's members have been reportedly killed or captured by the JTF.

"The group cannot be faceless if some of their commanders have been arrested or killed as JTF always claims.

"The Boko Haram commanders who are in detention have names. So, how can they be faceless? In the same vein, we dismiss the hypothesis of Boko Haram as ghosts. The faces of the leader of Boko Haram and that of his followers are usually shown in video clips and on the pages of newspapers. Ghosts do not appear in pictures or video.

"In our synthesis, we assert that the thesis of a faceless Boko Haram and the hypothesis of a ghost Boko Haram are both products of shallow thinking and an attempt to railroad Nigerians into supporting extra-judicial killings, the violation of Allah-given and fundamental rights of Northerners and the systematic destruction of the economy of the North.

"Nonetheless, we demand justice for the victims of the attacks. Widows and orphans of victims of the horrendous attacks must be properly compensated by the Federal Government. This includes rebuilding structures that have been bombed," it said.

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